Petaluma Victorian home gets dressed up for holiday home tour
When Bonnie Spindler bought the impossible-?to-miss Queen Anne presiding over the corner of 6th and B streets near downtown Petaluma, it had been on the market a long time and was suffering years of deferred maintenance.
But Spindler, a “down low” real estate agent as she puts it, with a soft spot for old houses, recognizes a diamond in the rough when she sees one.
The heart of the house had changed remarkably little since it was built at the turn of the last century. It was brimming with original details and Victorian eye candy, like turrets, a wrap-around porch and stained glass windows on each floor.
Old Dr. Gossage, the town veterinarian who built the house to serve as both home and office, would have no trouble finding his way around the house, from the washroom to the kitchen. Both were remodeled in th 1970s but remained in the same location.
He would feel at home on the staircase, with its walls lined with the original Lincrusta, a deeply embossed wallcovering made of a gelled linseed oil and wood flour paste spread onto a paper base and rolled between steel rollers one side of which is embossed with a fancy design.
Both the Lincrusta and the original woodwork were spared the indignities of a poor paintover and remained in original condition. Spindler enlisted Dustin O’Brien of O’Brien Painting, a second generation Petaluma painting contractor, to simply wax the wood.
“My whole focus is Victorians and keeping historic housing stock authentic,” said Spindler, who specializes in both the sale and the restoration of old homes. “People like to gut these and make them big white boxes, like a museum. I try to show with my restorations that you can be both authentic and historic but also practical for the 21st century.”
Spindler said she also believes that restoration with a light touch also is more eco-friendly.
Spindler has spent the last two years preserving the 3,317 square foot mansion and filling it once again with period antiques.
“Anything that was not original, I removed,” she said.
Now she’s ready to show it off. Her home is one of several historic homes that will be open to visitors for the Holiday Lighted Parlor Tour Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m., put on by Heritage Homes of Petaluma.
The tour is a Petaluma tradition and a chance to see some of the river town’s storied old homes, each lavishly done up for the holiday season. The tours also present an opportunity for other homeowners to pick up on remodeling and holiday decorating ideas.
Typically, 440 to 500 people will stream through the homes, also stopping by the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum for refreshments.
Among the other stops on the self-guided tour is a Queen Anne Victorian with a water tower, and an early farmhouse on D Street built in the 1870s - one of the first homes in the area.
Spindler’s home was built in 1889. There was another house on the site when Dr. Gossage earmarked the location for his home office. He had that much smaller home moved a couple doors down, where it still stands today, nearly 130 years later.
Spindler said while her home is Queen Anne in design, it is a later example, and shows some Edwardian features.
“The staircase is a little simpler. It’s more chunky and masculine. And there is less fretwork on the fireplace,” she said, referring to the interlaced design cut or carved out of wood.
In fact, most of the woodwork throughout the old home is simpler than typical Victorians, or at least the Victorians of San Francisco.
Spindler consulted an old photograph of the house archived at The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum and studied the home’s remaining original details to glean glues to for her restoration plan.
She noticed that two Vaseline glass light fixes appeared to be original to the house, so she sought out other antique fixtures with the same glass. Vaseline glass has a yellow or yellow-green tinge similar to the color of the old formula of Vaseline petroleum jelly, from which it took its name. She restored the pocket door between the parlor and dining room that had been removed before she moved in.
Spindler added other touches, like swapping out a built-in cabinet for a gas fireplace in the dining room with an antique mantle. She removed old carpeting to reveal the floor’s intricate inlaid pattern on the edges, and then finished it with infill oak. The original floor had been covered with Broadloom in the center of each room.
The most extensive changes came in the kitchen and the bathrooms, which had last been renovated in the 1970s. The house had an enclosed porch in back. Spindler wraparound porch
The kitchen and bathrooms had last been redone in the 1970s. But Spindler kept a vintage look, including adding an old beam above the large stove spotted at Heritage Salvage.
An avid entertainer, Spindler treated herself to a few modern luxuries, like two sinks and two dishwashers.
She kept the enclosed wraparound porch in back, but added large patio doors to make the small yard accessible from the kitchen.
Spindler splits her time between two Victorians - one in San Francisco and her newly-acquired old home in Petaluma. She said she hopes to eventually retire full time in Petaluma, where she has sold a number of the town’s aging beauties.
She also previously owned a vintage home in the Oak Hill neighborhood owned by the Newsom Bothers, who designed the renowned Carson Mansion in Eureka.
You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at 707-521-5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org